Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is commonly associated with a lack of focus and an inability to complete tasks. It’s also something we often associate with children.
But adult ADHD is also common in adults – and successful ones. In fact, one woman living with the disorder is finance influencer Hayley Sacks, better known by her Instagram name, Mrs Dow Jones.
Virgin founder Richard Branson also lives with ADHD, as does Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine, actor Jim Carey and American gymnast Simone Biles.
Sacks told her 164,000 followers that she has, “what scientists are calling, ‘very bad ADHD’,” and while it can be tough, it’s not impossible to be productive or successful when you have it.
According to Sacks, there are some secrets to staying productive whether you have ADHD or not.
“I need a finish line, and honestly, so do you,” Sacks said in a YouTube video.
She works in 25 minute intervals separated by a short break, which is called the Pomodoro technique.
This technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo back in the 1980s, when he was a uni student struggling to focus on his studies and complete his assignments.
Once you decide the task you are going to work on, you set your timer to 25 minutes and work on the task without interruptions. When your 25 minutes is up, you take a short 3 to 5 minute rest break before working on the next task.
“I have timers all over the apartment,” Sacks said in a YouTube video. “It sort of makes working a game for me, because I’m always trying to clock more intervals than I did yesterday.”
Being accountable to other people helps Sacks stay on task, she said.
“Sometimes I’ll just schedule a video shoot without any scripts done just so I have a deadline. I’ll schedule calls with people from my team for projects I need to finish just to incentivise myself to get it done.
“Basically I just like to instill fear in myself because I do not like letting people down. It works for me.”
If your ADHD is getting the better of you, or you are really struggling to concentrate, it’s at this point that you might be better simply taking a break to refresh yourself.
“I know that it sounds counterproductive in a video about productivity to talk about taking a break, but trust me, by stepping away from what you’re doing and getting some refreshment, you will be able to come back and get so much more work done,” she said.
This is backed up by science: a study in ScienceDaily found that spending time away from a project helps us reconnect with it in a stronger way when we return.
“When faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself,” the researchers found.
“Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task.”
But your breaks must be done correctly, behavioural neuroscientist, Justine Fam, said.
That doesn’t mean sitting at your computer and scrolling Facebook,” she said.
“Your break needs to be quite different to what you do at work. So, if you’re at the computer all day, your break means moving away from the computer.”
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